Kings takeaways: What we learned in uneven 121-109 win against Hawks

Kings takeaways: What we learned in uneven 121-109 win against Hawks


Messed around and almost got burned.

After leading by as many as 21 points in the first half, the Sacramento Kings went away from what was working Friday evening in Atlanta and the Hawks tracked them down.

Trae Young caught fire in the third quarter to make it a game and he didn’t stop there. With 9:03 remaining in the fourth, the Hawks cut Sacramento’s lead to one at 94-93. And then the Kings second unit responded.

Bogdan Bogdanovic, Trevor Ariza and Cory Joseph turned up the heat and dropped a 22-5 run to put Atlanta away. 

Here are three takeaways as the Kings improved to 2-1 on the road trip and 3-6 with the 121-109 victory.  

Big shot Bogi

For the second straight game, Bogdan Bogdanovic put on a show coming off the Kings’ bench. 

With Sacramento staggering at the end of the third, Bogdanovic buried one of his five makes to give the team breathing room heading into the fourth. 

He continued his timely shooting in the final quarter to finish the night with 20 points on 5-of-6 shooting from long range to go with five assists and four rebounds.

When Bogdanovic is on, the Kings need to give him the ball and get out of the way. Over his last two games, Bogdanovic has now hit 11 of 17 from behind the arc.

The Rise of Ariza

General manager Vlade Divac spent big money on Trevor Ariza in the offseason and through the first eight games, the returns were all over the place.

Against Atlanta, the 16-year veteran played extremely well, especially in the fourth quarter. Ariza was active on both ends of the court, coming away with two huge steals and a couple of big 3-pointers to help turn the tide in the final 12 minutes. 

Ariza finished the game with 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and 4-of-6 shooting from behind the arc. 

Coach Luke Walton has used Ariza more than expected early in the season and it paid off Friday against Atlanta.

Welcome back, Harry

After being put on ice throughout training camp and missing the first eight games of the season with a sore left knee, Harry Giles returned to action for Sacramento and made an immediate impact for Luke Walton’s squad. 

[RELATED: What Giles return from unique situation means for Kings]

Giles took a few minutes to find his sea legs on the offensive end, but he was active on defense, swatting away a dunk attempt by Hawks rookie De’Andre Hunter early in his first run.

The Kings have been needing another active enforcer on the court and Giles didn’t disappoint. He finished the night with four points, one rebound and a block in seven minutes of action. It was a brief first look, but Giles looked solid.

What De'Aaron Fox's injury means for Kings' chances in NBA restart

What De'Aaron Fox's injury means for Kings' chances in NBA restart

Maybe the NBA restart wasn’t such a good idea for the Kings.

Four Kings players have already tested positive for the coronavirus. The team was forced to shut down their practice facility. Their starting center was sent to his room for 10 days for violating contact rules and now De’Aaron Fox is on the shelf with an ankle injury.

This isn’t the start the team was hoping for. But now it is the reality they are living with.

Fox underwent an MRI on Wednesday following the team’s practice. According to the official press release, the 22-year-old point guard will be re-evaluated in seven-to-10 days after sustaining a second left ankle sprain this season.

There is no word on the severity of the injury, but any injury to the Kings’ leading scorer could have a major impact on their ability to win games.

“[He’s] someone I’ve called the head of our snake multiple times this season,” coach Luke Walton said earlier this week. “We put a lot on his plate, but he’s got that ability to be one of those players.”

With Fox on the shelf, Walton will turn to veteran Cory Joseph in the short term. The veteran is a methodical game manager and a strong defensive player, but the team plays at a completely different pace when he is on the court and he doesn’t have Fox’s dynamic offensive game.

[SPORTS UNCOVERED: Listen to the latest episode]

According to Kent Bazemore, Joseph has already assumed a leadership role with the team. He’s an experienced player that has made the playoffs in all eight of his seasons in the league, and he won an NBA championship with the San Antonio Spurs during the 2013-14 season.

“Cory Joseph is really running the team, he’s taken on a leadership role on the floor, getting guys in the right spot and being very vocal,” Bazemore said.

On the season, Joseph is averaging a modest 6.3 points and 3.4 assists in 24 minutes a night. He’s one of the more durable players in the league and hasn’t missed a game in the last three seasons.

With every contest being incredibly important during the restart, the Kings’ fate may lie completely in Fox’s ability to heal. That’s not an indictment on Joseph, but a statement on what Fox means to the team on both ends of the floor.

The early word is that Fox’s current injury is not as severe as the one that occurred early in the season, but it usually takes a few days to fully know the extent of the damage.

His recovery from his original injury was almost miraculous. The normal time frame for a Grade Three sprain, which is a complete detachment of the ligament, is usually around 12 weeks and sometimes a lot more than that.

After spraining his ankle on Nov. 11 at practice, he was able to return to the court five weeks later on Dec. 17.

If the Kings have any chance of snapping their 13-year playoff drought, they are going to need a less severe diagnosis and another expedited recovery.

The good news is that Fox knows the rehab and recovery program and the Kings’ training staff also has a solid understanding of what worked with the injury last time.

[RELATED: Kings' Luke Walton forced to get creative at center spot in Orlando]

Sacramento has additional options at the point as well. Yogi Ferrell keeps himself in excellent shape and is ready when called upon. Starting shooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic has the ability to slide over and eat time at the point as well.

The Kings have 16 days until their first game against the Spurs. If Fox is ready to play, the team has a chance to make some noise in the final eight games of the season. If he’s out long term, the road gets a lot more difficult.

Kings' De'Aaron Fox sprains ankle, out at least a week in NBA restart

Kings' De'Aaron Fox sprains ankle, out at least a week in NBA restart

The hits keep coming for the Kings.

Just as Buddy Hield and Jabari Parker returned to the floor, the Kings announced Wednesday that point guard De'Aaron Fox sprained his left ankle in practice and will be re-evaluated in seven-to-10 days.

Fox, the Kings' leader in both scoring and assists on the season, missed 17 games this season after sustaining a Grade 3 sprain on the same ankle in November. It took him time to regain his strength in the ankle once he returned, but the 22-year-old was rolling by the time the season was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[RELATED: How Kings' rough start to season could be an advantage in Orlando]

The Kings didn't specify what grade sprain Fox sustained on Wednesday, but the injury was severe enough to warrant an MRI. His status will be updated sometime next week.

Fox, 22, is averaging a career-high 20.7 points per and 4.0 rebounds per game this season, as well as 6.8 assists.